A TV show dedicated to the promotion of medical marijuana — complete with plant cultivation tips and cannabis cooking lessons — will debut in San Diego tonight.
The first episode of “Cannabis Planet” includes a segment critical of the raids carried out against local dispensaries last fall.
“We’re fighting for safe and legal access for the medical cannabis community,” said Brad Lane, the show’s creator and executive producer. “In San Diego, there’s been some draconian measures by law enforcement officials against the cannabis community. We feel San Diego is more of a hot spot.”
Officials with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, which has been prosecuting dispensary operators linked to the raids, say they are in support of medical marijuana, just not illegal drug trafficking.
“Nobody in law enforcement is targeting legitimate medical marijuana users,” said Paul Levikow, spokesman for the DA’s office. “People arrested and charged with illegal drug-dealing have, by and large, pleaded guilty to their crimes.”
Lane, who has been using marijuana daily for 28 years to cope with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sees the show as a way to inform the masses about the plant’s merits. In addition to its medical benefits, Lane said, hemp is a food source with healthy omega-3 fats, and has many industrial applications, such as a material for home construction and auto parts.
“As an industrial product, hemp can save our planet,” said Lane, 46, of Sunset Beach.
His show has been airing in Los Angeles since July on KJLA-TV, an independent station. The San Diego expansion is part of a plan to bring the show national. Lane is negotiating with stations in San Francisco, Sacramento and Denver to begin airing in those markets by the end of March. In Los Angeles and San Diego, Lane pays for the airtime.
Lane acknowledges the show has an amateur quality. His production company rents studio space in Los Angeles to film each 30-minute show, including the commercials. It will air in San Diego on Fridays and Saturdays at 11 p.m., sandwiched between a Los Angeles newscast and an infomercial. It runs on Cox Cable Channel 14, and will only be available to Cox subscribers in San Diego, the South Bay and East County.
The first 13 episodes airing in San Diego will predominantly feature material that has run in Los Angeles. By April, at least four minutes of each program will feature San Diego subjects.
Lane is hoping the show will help break the perception that marijuana is just for hippies or the terminally ill.
“It’s college-educated people who are responsible members of the community who are using cannabis,” Lane said. “It’s auto mechanics, bankers, lawyers, doctors, schoolteachers. They’re normal people. The more people come out of proverbial cannabis closet, the more we become socially acceptable.”
Some San Diegans, including Marcie Beckett, a Pacific Beach mother of two teenagers, say that’s not the right message to send.
“I won’t let it be watched in my house,” said Beckett, 50. “I think that people underestimate the adverse affects of marijuana, especially on youth.”
By Eleanor Yang Su